A specific, worthwhile entry into the middle school movie canon.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the works being covered here wouldn’t exist.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah has a simple premise. Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler) wants her bat mitzvah, only a few weeks away, to be perfect. Using that premise, the film takes off, exploring the growing pains of middle school.
The Friedmans feel like a real family because, for the most part, they are one. Sadie Sandler plays Stacy’s older sister, Ronnie, Adam Sandler, her dad, Danny, and Jackie Sandler, her best friend’s mom. Idina Menzel, completing an Uncut Gems reunion, is the only member of the Friedman family that isn’t a Sandler. There’s immense value in this. It creates an ease between the actors and, consequently, between the characters.
Sunny proves a delightful surprise in the lead role. The young actor fills the screen with a bright charm and a comedic ability that must run in the family. She plays Stacy with an awkward charisma, a perfect representation of middle school difficulties. She should rightfully receive more roles after this performance.
Adam gets to walk around the house in basketball shorts and Hawaiian shirts, comfortable in this role and with this cast. His character naturally becomes a version of himself, likely closer to reality than most movie fathers. He’s supportive, easily funny, and clearly enjoys spending time with his family. What else can an actor ask for?
Directed by Sammi Cohen and written by Alison Peck and Fiona Rosenbloom, the teen comedy doesn’t venture into the raunchiness of many of its predecessors. Instead, it remains enjoyable for kids and parents alike, poking fun at the missteps all audience members took when just entering their teens. Notably, the teenagers look like teenagers, something many movies continue to lack. All the actors looking like middle-schoolers gives the film a necessary air of reality. They well capture the feeling of it being their first time going through these seminal moments. Kissing for the first time, jumping off a scary ledge, periods, short-term relationships, and how devastating it can be when a crush holds hands with someone else. Every joke in Peck and Rosenbloom’s script might not work, but it consistently delivers a steady stream of laughable moments. Nearly two-thirds into 2023, it’s one of the year’s best comedies.
[Sunny Sandler] fills the screen with a bright charm and a comedic ability that must run in the family.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah never shies away from being unapologetically Jewish, either. It derives its comedy from the specificity of growing up in a Jewish household, preparing to ascend into adulthood, and the importance of a class-wide event at that age. It should be relatable for anyone who had to go to Sunday School as a kid. Finding so much joy in this religion is the film’s greatest asset. Little details go a long way, such as Sunny’s crush wearing a Star of David chain necklace, being a little taller than the rest of his friends, and a little better at soccer than the rest of their class. He seems just slightly cooler than everyone else, and that’s good enough in middle school.
Filled with needle drops from trending songs, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah places itself firmly in 2023, with TikTok references galore. It should appeal to younger audiences while giving parents a good time with a streaming film, a rarity in recent times. With Sandler and his family’s combined talent, the film makes a case for inclusion in the middle school pantheon.
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah is reciting its Torah portion in select theatres.